The Jackson County Board of Commissioners appears ready to put forward a ballot measure that would create a district in the county to support the Southern Oregon Research and Extension Center.
The proposal, which would create a tax of no more than 5 cents per $1,000 of assessed value on property in the county, will first be aired at two public hearings in December and January.
If the commissioners decide to put it before county voters, it would be placed on the May 2014 ballot.
"We have agreed to put it forward after we have a public hearing," commission Chairman Don Skundrick said. "But right now, yes, we basically agreed that's probably what should be done."
Supporters have proposed a tax of between 2 and 5 cents per $1,000 of assessed value, which they say would raise between $321,900 and $804,000 annually for the Extension Service program. Commissioner Doug Breidenthal said the amount would be determined before the second public hearing in January.
"It'll more than likely be firmed up prior to (then)," he said.
The tax of 2 to 5 cents per thousand would cost the owner of a home assessed at $200,000 between $4 and $10 annually.
The revenues would help to reinstate positions that have been cut and add some new ones, as well as pay for travel, training, maintenance and utilities.
"It'd be great if we had the money, if we could just continue to fund (the Extension Service) out of the general fund," Skundrick said. "This is just another way to get it done. It gives them certainty for sustainable funding."
The proposed new tax would pay for positions such as a 4-H program assistant, Master Gardener and land-steward coordinators, an office assistant, and a property and building manager. Supplies, materials, delayed center maintenance, and county fair judges and prizes now paid by the county also would be included.
The proposal surfaced after the county's Budget Committee decided to cut general fund support for the Extension Service for the 2013-14 fiscal year to help alleviate a $6.7†million budget shortfall. The Sheriff's Department, development services, public health, veteran's services and the libraries received similar funding cuts. The board later passed a budget that would provide six months of general fund support for the Extension, costing $102,102.
The Friends of Research & Extension group plans to approach the 11 incorporated cities within the county and ask them to pass a resolution to be included in the district. County officials said the tax rate would not be affected by whether cities decide to opt in.
Reach reporter Ryan Pfeil at 541-776-4468 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Correction: This story's headline has been corrected to clarify which university the Extension Service is affiliated with.